ESPN’s Biancardi on if Pons returns “It’s a win-win. Tennessee becomes one of the best teams in the country…and he can elevate his draft stock.”

Vols F Yves Pons / Credit: UT Athletics

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

ESPN basketball national recruiting director Paul Biancardi visited with Heather Harrington and me on Sports 180 recently.

He touched on a lot of different topics about Tennessee recruiting and basketball.

Below are just some of the quick quotes followed by the full interview with much more you should listen to.

On Rick Barnes’ recruiting:
“Rick Barnes made a major statement when he arrived on campus and he put together that initial class with Grant Williams.”

On what impresses him about Barnes:
“What Coach Barnes does a great job of is identifying the talent and then developing that talent. From the success he’s had at Tennessee, now he’s able to recruit even better talent but the same type of person that he values as a worker. He’s done a marvelous job of bringing Tennessee back to life in the SEC. He’s done that through recruiting and player development.”

On 2020 Class true freshman Jaden Springer:
“He’s a really good on-the-ball defender. We know how much Coach Barnes values playing defense and playing hard. I see him as a battle tested player that comes in right away and he gives Tennessee a big contribution right out of the gate.”

On 2020 Class true freshman Keon Johnson:
“An explosive athlete. This guy elevates in tight spaces very well. Great finisher. Can really defend.”

On 2020 Class true freshman Corey Walker:
“Another Top 100 player. More of a hybrid forward that can play inside and out at 6’7 plus.”

On Yves Pons as a draft prospect:
“He has physical measurables that the NBA loves, that they’re looking for. The high level athleticism. He’s got huge hands. Got a great wingspan. He’s plus 4 or 5 inches over his height. He elevates so well around the rim. He’s a power defender, shot blocker, but he’s also a multi-dimensional defender. He could probably cover 1s., 2s and some 3s (in the NBA.)”

On where Pons projects in the NBA Draft:
“Right now, you’re looking at, ballpark, a mid-second round pick. If somebody likes him a lot and wants to invest into his offense, they would take him earlier in the second round. Those who just can’t get past his lack of offensive ability for the NBA right now, would take him later in the second round.”

On if Pons returns to Tennessee:
“He’s always gotten better, so there’s no reason to think that by coming back to Tennessee that he can’t get better on the offensive end, expand his offensive game and play to his strengths. That’s why the NBA likes him and then he can impriove his draft status. If he comes back to Tennessee, and does what I just mentioned, it’s a win-win. Tennessee becomes one of the best teams in the country with the recruiting class and him coming back, and he can elevate his draft stock.”

On 5-star 2021 Tennessee target PG Kennedy Chandler from Memphis:
“I think they’re in really good shape with Kennedy Chandler. I just spoke to Kennedy Chandler, actually, this week. He really likes Rick Barnes.”

On 5-star 2021 Tennessee target C Moussa Cisse from Memphis:
“That’s going to be a tougher one. I think him being closer to Memphis, I think Memphis is probably the leader with him.”

On 5-star 2021 Tennessee target PF Paolo Banchero from Seattle:
“He’s really tight with Kennedy Chandler. They have some schools together on their list and Tennessee’s one of them, Memphis and Kentucky also. They would like to play together, if possible. That would have to be Kennedy Chandler committing to Tennessee, I believe, and bringing Banchero with him.”

On 5-star 2021 Tennessee target C Charles Bediako from Ontario, Canada:
“Yeah, they’ve (UT) had great success with guys from up in Canada, so I think they’re in really good shape with him. 6’10 shot blocker.”

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